Come January, I’m ready to hunker down. Finally clear of the holiday frenzy, I crave slow evenings, mulled cider and the occasional quiet dinner party with a few friends.
Late-winter entertaining is a whole different beast from the string of holiday parties that stretch out across November and December. Now’s the time for slow-cooked, rich braises and stews that need nothing more than a glass of red wine to feel complete.
Last year, I spent most of this first month making oven-roasted beef stew. The year before, I revisited a braised turkey leg dish that I grew up eating out of my grandmother’s oval aluminum pot. This year, I can’t get the idea of pork posole out of my mind.
In the past, I’ve made green posole with a tomatillo puree, which is wonderfully mild and flavorful. Wanting to try something new, I determined that January 2012 is going to be focused on getting Rachael Ray’s recipe for Red Pork Posole just right.
Essentially, you cook a pork shoulder low and slow, until it just falls apart. Then you stir those tender shreds into a gravy of ancho chile, hominy and caramelized vegetables and serve it with corn tortillas and queso fresco. It’s definitely one to put on the list for The Weekender.
Before you start braising, here are a few things you should know:
- Rachael’s recipe calls for you to braise four pounds of pork shoulder. However, this dish only uses half that amount (the rest is reserved for another dish she made on the same show). Either reduce the amount of meat you buy or cook up the full amount and pop what remains into your freezer for later meal.
- If your household doesn’t do pork, skip the shoulder and braise a couple pounds of boneless chicken thighs up instead. It will be equally delicious.
- If dried chile peppers aren’t part of your regular kitchen repertoire, don’t be afraid. The deeply flavored ancho chiles aren’t impossibly spicy and reconstitute with ease.
- Look for canned hominy in the bean aisle of your grocery store. Still can’t find it? Try an ethnic market that caters to Mexican cuisine.
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook, also called Food in Jars, will be published by Running Press in spring 2012.